P.O.S - We Don't Even Live Here [Album Review]

P.O.S’ brand new album came out yesterday and ever since seeing the superb video for F*** Your Stuff I’ve been really looking forward to this date. OK, so I may have heard this album a few weeks early for the purpose of reviewing it (thanks to the good folks at Division Media), but the point remains.

The fact that a guy like me can stay interested in an album after more than a few weeks of listening to it, in this current musical climate (I personally think it’s been a rather poor year for music), is a testament to the quality of this album. So, click on below to read my thoughts on We Don’t Even Live Here, and to find out more about P.O.S.

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Album Review: Kid Cudi and Dot Da Genius - WZRD

OTU’s live Twitter album reviews makes a return here in 2012, and what better way to kick it back off again than with Kid Cudi’s and Dot Da Genius’ ambitious WZRD album?

Never one to conform to the perceptions people have on him, Kid Cudi continues to create the music he wants to make, which at the end of the day is what artistry is all about.

Click on below to read what has already been written on the OTU live Twitter feed, each track reviewed within the 140 character limit!

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Album Review: Drake - Take Care

Following on from Ajay’s game-changing live tweet review of the excellent Childish Gambino album, Camp, I’ve followed up with live album review of my own, for an album that leaked on the same day of the previously mentioned album.

Take Care is Drake’s attempt at beating the ‘sophomore curse’, and he takes it into a very different direction to his explosive début. The build up to this album has been slightly lacklustre, has Drake managed to pull a rabbit out the hat? Those following the official OTU Twitter account already know my thoughts, the rest of y’all click on below.

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Album Review: Childish Gambino-Camp

Being the pioneers that we are, our first ever ‘live album review’ just took place, with yours truly providing track-by-tweet reviews for every track on Childish Gambino’s upcoming Camp album.

Gambino’s (and Donald Glover’s) profile has been raised considerably in the last 12 months, and there’s no doubt that this is his most high-profile release to date, with many ignoring his previous releases and treating this as a true ‘debut album’: we won’t argue the technicalities, and the fact remains that he’s been putting out some great music regardless of the project its been for, and that consistency has set expectations extremely high for this LP.

Did it live up to the hype? If you’ve not already found out on Twitter, fear not: each individual Tweet has been compiled below for you readers to enjoy in a more regular format. Keep an eye out for our next live album review on the official OTU Twitter account!
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Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials Review

I’m absolutely obsessed with Florence Welch – in fact I think my love for Florence + the Machine is 76% percent about the music and 24% about her, and I challenge anyone not to have loved Lungs. So imagine my joy when I finally got my hands on Ceremonials, the follow-up album from this flame haired Amazonian (she’s a very impressive 6ft).

Florence has an unbridled talent that the vast majority of UK female ‘pop’ artists can only dream about, but she had some MASSIVE shoes to fill after Lungs.  Ceremonials is certainly a lot ‘bigger’ than its predecessor  – most of Lungs was recorded in a series of obscure locations, such as an empty swimming baths and a Synagogue, and I genuinely think that lent to the sound.

Ceremonials doesn’t feel as personal to the listener as their previous album –  I’m Not Calling You a Liar felt like it was being sung in to your ear, and My Boy Builds Coffins was haunting.

Compared to these tracks, most of the songs on Ceremonials feel like Florence has been told to just ‘let go’. Gone are the whispered promises of her previous tracks – Florence means business and she’s giving it everything she’s got.

This is certainly not to say that I don’t like Ceremonials. I actually love it – it’s just different. Tracks to watch out for are Shake It OutWhat The Water Gave Me, and Leave My Body – all are fantastic and totally encapsulate what this group are all about. I genuinely think that Shake It Out is possibly the best song that they have ever released. Yes, better than Rabbit Heart.

If anyone can deliver the ceremony and melodrama required to pull off these big, turbulent songs it’s Florence. I don’t think there’s any stopping this band, and I’ll be whipping this album out at every available opportunity over the coming months.

Jay-Z and Kanye West-Watch The Throne Review

After delays, rumours of unrest and much more, Monday saw the long-awaited release of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne. Arguably, one of the most anticipated collaborative albums in the past decade, it’s undoubtedly one of those rare events that captures the attention of the entire hip-hop community, consequentially resulting in thousands of reviews and opinions. Add one more to that list.

There’s been no hiding my positive opinions on Kanye West and his work over the years, whilst any appreciation for Jay-Z at this stage surely goes without saying (regardless of The Blueprint 3). The collaboration of the two should theoretically give rise to one of the finest synergies in hip-hop history, with two vanguards of hip-hop cementing the genre’s dominance across music.

Theoretically, anyway.
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Atmosphere-The Family Sign [Album Review]

“In the three years since Atmosphere last dropped a full length record on the world, they’ve been far from stagnant, staying at the top of their game in every respect. For the better part of two years, Atmosphere toured the globe in support of their critically acclaimed – and #5 Billboard Top 200 charting – album, ‘When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold’, which brought their combined album sales up to the 1.5 million mark. And in their “spare” time, the group returned home to Minneapolis in 2009 to record their 2010 double EP, ‘To All My Friends, Blood Makes The Blade Holy’, an homage to their friends.

In 2011, Atmosphere is taking that feeling one step farther with this long awaited LP, ‘The Family Sign’, a tribute to their true extended family: their fans, their loved ones, and each other.”

With it being officially released here in the UK just two days ago, we were lucky enough to be hooked up with a copy of this album weeks before (thanks to Sam!), so click on below to read OTU’s thoughts on this long awaited album.

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Reks-Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme [Album Review]

“Reks’ third offering in the shape of Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme delivers to the underground fan with a range of subject matter, on-point rhymes, lyrical dexterity and Reks’ best selection of beats to date.”

The artist:

Born Corey Isaiah Christie in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Reks dropped out of college to pursue his dream in hip-hop. After taking the Boston underground scene by storm, Reks landed a deal with Landspeed Records who delivered his now decade-old debut Along Came The Chosen in 2001. The success which followed gave touring opportunities alongside respected emcees including Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Redman, De La Soul and his idol KRS-One. Reks’ second effort Grey Hairs (2008) is frequently cited as a classic amongst underground heads spearheaded by the impeccable Say Goodnight with legendary producer DJ Premier.

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Ed Sheeran-No. 5 Collaborations Project [Review]

I received a press copy of this about a month ago, and it’s a testament to how good the EP is that I’m still listening to it now. The quality of the EP and the incredible hard work Ed Sheeran and his team have put in have paid off, as this has bolted up to #2 in the iTunes download chart! I’m told it even had top spot for a brief time last night too (and when competing with Rihanna, this is no mean feat).

So who is Ed Sheeran? And how did someone whose main influences include the likes of Bob Dylan & Damien Rice come to collaborate with some of grime’s best artists? The 19-year old hails from East Anglia, first picking up his guitar and making songs in 2002. He got his big break appearing on SBTV, exposing Ed’s music to a whole new scene, resulting in contact with the artists who feature on the EP, amongst others (like Example, who enlisted Ed as tour support). Click on below to read our review of this EP.

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Celph Titled & Buckwild-Nineteen Ninety Now [Album Review]

While the foundations of Nineteen Ninety Now sit firmly in their self-titled era, the freshness of Celph Titled and Buckwild’s innovation manage to deliver a 2010 gem to be savoured by old-school and underground heads alike.

Raekwon really has started something. It now seems as if everyone wants to rekindle Golden Age hip-hop again. And who am I to complain? The success of Rae’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, has seen industry vets such as Capone-N-Noreaga release the sequel to their critically acclaimed The War Report, AZ is soon to drop Doe Or Die 2 and even Snoop aims to go for the jugular after recently (and worryingly) announcing Doggystyle 2.

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Sleeping With Open Eyes: Part 1

Illmatic, Enter The Wu Tang, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, The Infamous, Reasonable Doubt, Ready To Die, Mecca And The Soul Brother, Tical, Lifestyles Ov Da Poor N Dangerous, Doe Or Die, The Low End Theory.

I’m hoping these albums strike some sort of chord with you. They should do. They form part of the 1990’s best hip-hop records ever released, never mind just East Coast. I’ve read countless blogs, Amazon lists, Wikipedia articles, Last.fm pages, magazines and books where these albums feature almost predictably on everyone’s  (mine included) “best of’s”, “albums to listen before you die” and “real hip-hop” playlists and no doubt will continue to as long as hip-hop remains in existence.

My point? What about those undeniable records of genius simply overshadowed by the above? The ones which fell victim not to the quality of the music itself, but merely the timing of its release. In an industry today where even the truly beautiful flowers are unable to rise above the magnitude of towering weeds, how impossible would it have been for such a flower to rise above a 100ft tree full in blossom? Put it this way, I wouldn’t have wanted my release date on April 19th 1994.

This is part one of an assortment of underrated hip-hop records from the 1990’s, carefully handpicked and selected for you by myself. → Continue Reading

Killah Priest-The 3 Day Theory Review

Killah Priest is a busy boy. It seems only weeks ago since he dropped Elizabeth and matter of fact, doesn’t seem that long ago since I was bumping Beautiful Minds with Chief Kamachi. Having been kindly sent an advance copy (no you can’t have it) of The 3 Day Theory I feel it is only right to do the man the justice he deserves by way of a comprehensive review.

Teaming up with the classic Gun 4 Gun producer Kount Fif, Priest ensures that production is all coming from the same page which in fact could be a double-edged sword; will 3 Day Theory be seamlessly integrated or painfully repetitive? The answer? Well somewhere in-between actually. In this case though it is far from a bad thing. Read on. → Continue Reading

Royce Da 5′9″ – The Bar Exam 3 Mixtape + Review

So this evening I find myself in my garden, with the rare pleasure of UK sun and a certain eagerly anticipated mixtape; none other than Royce Da 5’9”s The Bar Exam 3.

After the industry’s mostly favourable response to last year’s Street Hop LP Royce has continually drip leaked us tracks from TBE3 to keep us salivating for the full effort. Unlike other artists in the game who drop a half-hearted mixtape endeavour to promote an upcoming album, TBE3 proves Royce’s commitment to his fans and most won’t be disappointed here.

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Nas & Damian Marley-Distant Relatives Review

No, not from me unfortunately for you. Our friends over at 365 Albums A Year have delivered a fantastic review of the album which sums up my feelings on the album pretty well, with a few minor differences. Must-read if you enjoyed the album!

Distant Relatives Review

Quick Throwback: Raekwon’s OB4CLII

In case you missed Rae’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II when it dropped last September then after sorting your life out, please find below my favourite joint from the album.

I always think Cold Outside is directly comparable with Rainy Dayz from the album’s father LP; again my favourite track. It features a cold, harrowing beat which Rae and Ghost lay some smooth rhymes all tied together by upcomer Suga Bang Bang.

Some of our favourite people on the Internet over at 365 Albums A Year have put together a fantastic review of Rae’s already-hailed classic. Make sure you check it out.

Raekwon (feat Ghostface & Suga Bang Bang) – Cold Outside

Album Review: Foals-Total Life Forever

As the much anticipated follow-up to Antidotes, the potential for greatness here is undeniable! The drooling populous teased by the band members vague preamble and this teaser site, TFL could prove to be one of the most influential albums of the upcoming decade.

Hitting shelves and iTunes everywhere on Monday 10th of May, Total Life Forever WILL rock your world. Read on to find out why.
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Punk Pop Throwback: The Academy Is...- Almost Here Review

Bit of an album throwback here, after a few of the tracks popped up on my Top Rated shuffle on my iPod whilst I was writing my dissertation (10,900 words in 15 days, with a week in Amsterdam in between; BOOM!). Before I knew it, I’d sacked off the shuffle and was listening to the album in its entirety.

Released in 2005, to paraphrase Tim “the Big Dog” Westwood “it’s off the meat rack, POW POW POW!”.

Ring the bell: school’s in, suckers.

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Fly Gypsy-FG*XL:remixtape Review and Download

As you well know by now, I don’t write album/mixtape reviews or feature articles unless it’s something very worthwhile. It’s a lot of time and dedication for me, so you know there’s a damn good reason behind it right? Right.

OTU followers will be familiar with this duo (and all you newcomers need to get educated, fast). We’ve followed them for quite some time, and they’ve really stepped their game up in the last 2/3 months with this remix project. If you’ve missed any of the utterly awesome remixes they’ve put out, click on to find the links for recapping.

Anywho, it’s time to unleash the entire project. 18 tracks of fantastic music from an unbelievable (you’ll agree, trust me!) range of genres that will cement these guys as ones to watch for 2010. If you don’t have time for the review, you can download the mixtape here. If you do, click on.

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Quick Blast: Throwback AZ Review

Those of you who have followed Murray’s Throwback Thursdays (which I expect is all of you by now) should be familiar with AZ. If you aren’t, consider yourself an idiot and get educated here.

Our colleagues over at 365 Albums A Year reviewed AZ’s Murray-acclaimed 1995 Doe or Die album, and it’s definitely worth a read for fans of his work/our own Throwback Thursdays.

AZ-Doe or Die Review

Mickey Factz-thedarkphoenix: #ALPHA Review and Download

Dropping new Mickey Factz before anyone else in this fine country, so take advantage. (EDIT: They’ve probably caught up now as I’ve opted to write a review.)

This is an 8-track mixtape/EP, which is unlike anything Mickey has done before in terms of concept.

“While the world awaits the sun to rise to begin life, we await it to fall to become alive. The shadows is our solitude and catalyst for true art and thought. Amongst it, we are not damned nor idolized. Therefore we can only be true to ourselves. And from that, the world will eventually seek light and understanding. – The Dark Phoenix”

Click on to grab the music, and read the review!
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Some (Very) Brief Album Reviews

Firstly, apologies for the quiet day on here. I’m having some issues with the back-end of things, and it’s going a lot slower than usual. Hopefully, normal service will resume in the next hour or so.

Right, onto this post: I get through a lot of albums weekly, and unfortunately just don’t have the time to do as many reviews as I’d like. They take a huge amount of time, which is pretty hard to come by. Don’t fret though, as I will have some coming up very soon (the assignments are nearly done!) and to tie you over I’ve written some mini-reviews on albums I’ve given a spin recently. Click below to swarm yourself in my warped opinions.

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Quietdrive-Close Your Eyes EP Review

Here goes another review. This time I take Quietdrive’s new EP for a spin, which will actually be the first rock/alternative review we’ve had since re-launching as a .com.

I’ve had a whirlwind romance with Quietdrive, having been introduced to them a little over a year ago. At the time, I was fully back into hip-hop, so for these guys to pull me back towards alternative music was a testament to the quality of their music. Alternative heads will be clicking on I’m sure, but I recommend that urban music followers give this a read too. Isn’t that the whole point of this site?

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Kid Cudi-Man On The Moon: The End of Day Review

This could prove to be my most difficult review to date. Apologies for the delay on this.

How do you review a piece of music that is supposed to be treated as a ‘movie’?

Well, I figured it out. Click below to hop along on Kid Cudi’s emotional rollercoaster.

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Trey Songz-Ready Review

Looks like it’s time to dust off the brain, and get stuck into a review.

In an environment full of meaningless, formulaic and homogeneous R&B, there are one or two artists who still try to stick true to what the genre is supposed to be all about.

Step forward Trey Songz. Already two albums deep, Trey’s phenomenal natural gift is back on show with his third effort, Ready.

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Joe Budden-Escape Route Review

Hot on the heels of the news/track we brought you on Monday, and the official release on Tuesday, comes the review of Escape Route.

I’m delighted that Joe chose to switch this from a short EP to a full-length album. It’s always good to have a body of material from him, and much like his previous releases, this doesn’t disappoint. Click below for the review!

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Maxwell: A Review of A Potential Classic

Are you sick of  “explicit, AutoTune-coated R&B”? Do you miss organic music made using real instruments and a voice?

You’re not the only one. For once, those who shape the charts have done some good, and Maxwell’s first release since 2001 (8 years is a LONG time in music!) went straight to #1 in the USA.

Whether you’ve heard of Maxwell or not, click below, if only for the sake of good music and broadening your horizons.
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If Tomorrow Comes – Album Review.


Before I start I’d just like to give a shout out to a good friend of mine who was involved in an accident yesterday, and is now recovering in the hospital – get well soon Annie!

Following on from one of my previous posts, today sees the release of the much anticipated album from Maino. Coming from a select few of Brooklyn MC’s (Saigon, Papoose etc.) who have been on the mixtape scene for the last 5 years or so, Maino is the first one of these rappers to have his album (If Tomorrow Comes) actually released!

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